Relationships between seed deposition, size of soil seed banks and some of the environmental factors affecting them were assessed for Calluna vulgaris throughout its altitudinal range (150-960 m a.s.l.) in eastern Scotland. Seed rain was assessed using pitfall traps, collected every 5-10 wk for 3 yr; germinability was determined by laboratory incubation. Seed bank size was estimated, once only, by counting seedlings emerging from soil cores kept for 50 wk in a glasshouse.
Seed deposition varied annually, was related to parent plant cover but always declined with altitude, falling sharply above 600 m a.s.l. Seed bank size was more closely correlated with the proportion of organic matter in the soil than with the amount of seed rain. Seed bank sizes declined gradually with altitude but did not differ significantly between four altitudinal zones. The mean density of buried seeds was less than half the mean annual seed rain at sites below 300 m a.s.l. but was over 200 × greater than annual seed rain above 800 m, suggesting that seeds buried at high altitudes remain viable for much longer than those at lower altitudes.
Nomenclature: Stace (1997).